26 May 2014

Mobile marketing leads to real outcomes in China: Tencent

Seng Yee (SY) Lau, President, Online Media Group, Tencent and Senior Executive VP, Tencent Holdings, says mobility has empowered the Chinese consumer. Lau’s keynote at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum 2014 in Singapore focused on how the Chinese consumer has moved on from mobile marketing as passive branding to marketing as active transacting.

“The fundamentals have changed overnight,” he said. “In China, mobile app developers have seen great success. Didi Taxi (Didi Dache) launched 16 months ago in China, and has 220 million users and 350,000 taxi drivers using the app. If you use WeChat, there is a discount. It is a robust industry going forward.”

Lau noted that the Shopin retail chain’s WeChat experience store in Hangzhou, opened in April 2014, is a testament to Chinese confidence about mobile e-commerce. There are no cashiers at the store; shoppers just get a Shopin WeChat account and pay for everything through the WeChat Payment feature. He also shared a mobile campaign with Mercedes Benz in which 388 cars were sold, without test drives, in just three minutes. 

The Chinese have responded to mobile-based calls for donating their voices too. Tencent’s CSR outreach began with blank books at bookstores and ads at massage businesses where blind masseurs worked. Readers used associated QR codes to access a short stretch of text, roughly a minute’s worth, that they could read aloud. Each recording, it was explained to the public, would eventually be compiled into an audio book to be offered to the blind. In two months, 200,000 donors read enough text for 200 audio books, Lau said.

What drives success, Lau emphasised, is what’s in it for the user. “The key drivers of any initiative have to start from who benefits first and who benefits most and that has to start from the focal point of the user,” he said, pointing out that mobile-first users see things differently.

“Today people don't go to the TV, they don't go to print, they don't go to radio. The mobile Internet has dominated the media needs of the Chinese. The Tencent mobile news platform..is integrated with WeChat and covers 630 million people on a day to day basis. That's changing lifestyles.”

Lau suggested that things would change again as smartphones become common in rural China, where 47% of the total Chinese population resides. “Such people will have a quantum leap in terms of their experience of the Internet. They will be very sophisticated smartphone users,” he said. “Emerging markets will be the digital frontline.”